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Speeding up the Internet in Windows XP: The Role of XP in Internet Speed Allocation

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 8/31/2010

The role of any operating system is limited when people attempt to increase the speed of their Internet connection. It is really the hardware that improves the speed of the Internet. However, this article discusses the idea of tweaking Windows XP to increase Internet speeds.

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    Tweaking Windows XP for Faster Internet Speed – Just Myths; Not Recommended

    There are a number of forums dedicated to tweaking Windows XP for faster Internet speeds. Surprisingly, almost all forums have some Windows tweak to increase the speed of your Internet. However, the kind of tweaks discussed in such forums may severely affect the performance of your computer.

    Most of them say that tweaking Windows XP for more bandwidth helps increase Internet speed. This is true to some extent: Bandwidth is an essential component when it comes to Internet speeds and browsing experience. But there are other factors too: priority of applications, system memory, traffic on the server, number of simultaneous connections to the server, and much more. Your operating system knows better about these and can manage bandwidth automatically, without you having to interfere.

    Tweaking Windows XP for faster Internet speeds is something that should NEVER be considered – especially, if the Windows tweak is about disabling default bandwidth management. The most famous Windows XP tweak in almost all such forums, is to manipulate the QoS Packet Scheduler. Forums dealing with tweaking Windows XP for faster Internet speeds ask you to set the value of QoS Packet Scheduler to zero.

    QoS stands for Quality of Service where your copy of Windows XP tries to optimize the bandwidth by limiting the bandwidth share to applications trying to access the Internet through a LAN or direct Point to Point Protocol or PPP (used in wireless broadband and wired dialups) connections. Based on the priority of a process or application, Windows XP increases or decreases the bandwidth-allocation to that application so that other applications too can access the Internet at the same time.

    If you tweak Windows XP by setting the value of QoS Packet Scheduler to zero, you are virtually disabling it. This in turn means that all applications will try to get the maximum share of the Internet connection's bandwidth – leading to heavy congestion and major conflicts that may ruin your Internet settings – leaving you without any Internet in a bid to increase speed.

    There are several bandwidth optimizers available on the Internet. They too claim to tweak Windows XP to speed up your online experience. However, if you are running a Windows XP based network, I would recommend you leave the bandwidth management to the operating system instead of messing up the LAN and PPP.

    If your LAN has a client-server structure, then leave the bandwidth management to the server. Microsoft Exchange Server has good capabilities whereby it can identify priority processes and allocate bandwidth accordingly. If your LAN is big, you can use Cisco BBSM and if it is a distributed area network, you can use Cisco WAAS. For a standalone system or a small peer to peer network running on Windows XP, the best method to speed up the Internet is to "buy more bandwidth" instead of trying to tweak Windows XP.

    Note:

    1) You can always use third party programs to accelerate certain activities on the Internet, such as: Using video accelerators for viewing videos or to remove latency while you are on VoIP services; and, using download accelerators to increase the speed of downloads. These applications do not ask you to tweak Windows XP to speed up the Internet as they either already carry higher priority or use pre-fetch features (like buffering) to increase the speed of Internet specific tasks.

    2) Another method to speed up your Internet connection is to make changes to your browsers (Ref: How to Speed up Internet Explorer) so that they do not fall hard on resources, thereby offering you a better browsing experience.